Google has come out with another update to Google Apps, which it does with regularity, and this one appears to be one that could seem small to many but according to my Twitter stream, it was a big one. You can now finally merge table cells in a Google Doc. Now I know many people would have assumed you could have done this before, they would be wrong. This is a new update and is rolling out to all accounts as I type. You can find out more about the updates today at https://plus.google.com/+GoogleDrive/posts/fDKE7htJ2Ma There are also some other updates but this seems to be the one that people wanted the most.
You can merge cells by simply highlighting those cells, click on “Table” and then “Merge Cells”. You can also do this by highlighting those cells and then right-clicking to get the same options.
This is a big thing for people who really want to format their tables in a certain way but were not able to do so before without a workaround using spreadsheets or another document type. I can hear those people who use Word yelling at all of those who are happy with this update that they could always do this in Word. The thing is, even though I am a big fan of Google Apps due to what we can do with them with students (for free), this was a feature that was not necessary but is nice to have. I think Google did miss the fact that so many people wanted this, as was evident by how many times my tweet got retweeted and by how many people I follow on Twitter were tweeting the same thing.
While Word may have more editing features, I still like Google Docs as my document tool. I like being able to easily share out and collaborate on a document without having to pay for it. I know Mircrosoft has opened up Office 365 to many in education for free, this might be too late for many who were tired of having to pay for it or to hear from their students that they had a different version at home than what we had at school. Google Apps are so much easier when it comes to collaboration and communication. You can easily have a group all work on the same file at the same time and even include the teacher during the entire process, instead of just at the end. You can quickly share out what you created with the world with a couple clicks. While Word may have the upper hand when it comes to formatting, Google Docs has it when it comes to ease of use and collaboration.
Now we wait for columns….although my workaround will be good for most people. Just create a 2 or 3 column table with 1 row and then choose white as the color for the lines. Same functionality and look as columns, you just may need to create a new table for each page depending on your formatting preferences.